National Adoption Month. #FlipTheScript

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Honoring and listening to the most underserved  voices in adoption and foster care.

About the author: Katie Stickles-Wynen, MSW, a Colombian adoptee, has a Masters in Social Work. After college, Katie worked at Hyde School in CT where she helped design a program for adopted youth and parents. Katie studied under Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao in Boston before moving to California and joining the Pact staff where she leads groups, works with tweens and teens and provides psycho-educational counseling to pre-adoptive parents.

adoption_month1November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This month originally started as a week in the state of Massachusetts to promote the need of adoptive families for children in foster care and was eventually expanded to a month by President Bill Clinton. The month now recognizes all adoptions, but does continue with a focus on children in the foster care system.

The adoption narrative/discussion is often lead by adoptive parents; the triad member most directly served in the adoption process. The voices of birth/first parents and adoptees is ignored; the triad members most directly affected by the adoption process. Fed up with the shiny, happy, lucky, narrative of adoption, The Lost Daughters began a movement in November 2014 called “Flip The Script.” This movement features the voices of adult adoptees who have lived experience. They share the struggles, complications, loss and trauma of adoption and their personal journeys.

While adoptee voices are becoming louder, the voices of birth/first parents are still being silenced. Birth/first parents are often painted in a negative light as parents who “threw away” their children. If birth/first parent voices were honored as much as adoptive parent voices, the public would know that each journey is different, that the media representation of birth family is not accurate and that the voices of birth/first parents are essential to understanding the adoption process and supporting adoptees.

Adoption is complicated. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. All voices of the adoption constellation need to be heard and honored, especially those of adoptees, foster care youth/alums and birth/first parents.

Check out these 3 non-profit organizations that support the underserved members of the adoption and foster care communities and learn how you can help:

slm-for-web-e1432840609939Silver Linings Mentoring is a non-profit in Massachusetts that empowers youth in foster care to flourish through committed mentoring relationships and the development of essential life skills. If you live in MA learn how you can become a mentor. If you live out-of-state your donation will help provide services for foster youth. Donate Now »

On Your Feet Foundation empowers, unites, and supports women who have placed a child for adoption.oyff-logo OYFF provides critical services to support and empower birth parents who currently live in California or who have placed a child for adoption in California. Academic and counseling grants are offered to birth parents in addition to Birth Mother Retreats three times a year to provide birth mothers with a unique opportunity to share common experiences, participate in therapeutic workshops and build community. Donate Now »

pact-logoPact, An Adoption Alliance serves adopted children of color by providing not only adoptive placement, but lifelong education, support and community for adoptees and their families on matters of adoption and race. Pact’s adoption placement program serves families of color seeking to adopt, as parents of color are greatly underserved in adoption. Pact also leads support groups for adult adoptees and foster alum of color, birth/first parents of color and hosts two, week long camps that provide support, community, education and empowerment to adopted youth of color and their families. Donate Now »

#FlipTheScript, get involved and donate to these and other organizations whose mission is to serve the underserved in the adoption community.

Katie Stickles-Wynen, MSW
Pact, An Adoption Alliance

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue … Continue reading

Four ways to feed the hungry

Thanksgiving Skype

Each Thanksgivingmy family makes it a priority to have dinner together. Even when I was living abroad for my first holiday away from home, my dad booted up Skype so that I could join in the festivities virtually. For us, it’s not just the meal that’s important. It’s taking time off of work, turning off our cell phones, and coming together in one place. We start by going around the table and saying what we are most grateful for. It is never difficult to think of or name our blessings—the most obvious of which is the food in front of us. It gives us a way to celebrate while satisfying our basic human need.

At Thanksgiving, more than any other time, it’s obvious there is enough food to go around. (And around and around.) While our own family’s table bursts at the seam with turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I know there are many in my own backyard of San Francisco going to sleep hungry and cold. And the number of homeless and hungry families is only growing with unemployment at a staggering 9.1 percent. That’s nearly 14 million Americans.

This Thanksgiving season, my appeal is simple. Fill someone else’s belly.

  1. Give – Donate to organizations that feed the hungry every day.
  2. Volunteer – Make it part of your family tradition to visit a soup kitchen or shelter or help out at a food bank, and combine spending time together with doing something meaningful.
  3. Share your meal – If you know a family that is struggling, invite them to join yours for dinner or stop by their home with leftovers. (Your church or a nearby school may know of a family if you don’t.)
  4. Click on The Hunger SiteBookmark the page, click daily, and sponsors pay for food.

However you choose to contribute, make it last. Volunteer throughout the year or consider making your donation monthly recurring. In these tough times, it’s no secret that hunger is an everyday problem for many.

>>Like us on Facebook for more tips and ideas on how you can give back during the holidays.
>>Visit JustGive for tips on Other Ways to Give.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Food nourishes the body. Giving nourishes the soul.

Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. Nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy quite like friends and family gathered at home, sharing laughter and memories, and eating generous helpings of my favorite comfort foods. But what makes this holiday so special to me isn’t roasted and placed on a table. Thanksgiving is a time to take a moment to appreciate the abundance in our lives, even in hard times.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my father, and the first with my daughter. Like most families, we go around the table saying what we are thankful for this year. My father always said things like, “I’m grateful to complain about going to work tomorrow, because it means I have a job” or “I’m grateful I’ll be stuck doing the dishes, because it means we had food to eat.” He truly understood what it means to give thanks. I’m grateful for the wisdom he passed on, and hope to pass it on to my daughter.

This Thanksgiving, give someone else something to be thankful for. Your generosity can provide a hot meal, a warm bed to sleep in, and comfort in a time of need.

 
Is there food in your kitchen?

The USDA announced the number of Americans who rely on food stamps has increased 17% in the last year—up to 42 million. But with $2 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, resources for hungry families are dwindling. A report from theU.S. Department of Agriculture reported nearly 6 million households—affecting as manyas 1 million children—had ongoing financial problems that forced them to miss meals regularly.

I found a few charities that are working to bridge this gap:

 

  • A $20 donation to Feeding America provides an amazing 140 meals.
  • For $35, Meals on Wheels will provide a hot meal and a comforting visit to 5 home bound seniors.
  • A $50 donation to Rubicon Programs buys a grocery bag of fresh food for a formerly homeless family moving into their new home.

 

Not just a man on the corner holding a sign

After years of record high unemployment and foreclosures, it’s likely that someone you know—a co-worker, a friend, a relative—is now without a stable place to call home. Budget cuts trickling down from a rough economy make the future uncertain for those who need a roof over their head so they can get back in their feet.

When you’re cleaning your home for visitors this holiday, consider donating to organizations helping those in need of shelter and warmth:

  • A $25 donation buys paint for a house built by Habitat for Humanity. For an additional $100 you can buy the kitchen sink, too!
  • A $35 donation to Covenant House provides clean sheets and a blanket to a homeless youth.

 

Are you a guest at Thanksgiving diner?

A charity gift card makes the perfect hostess gift! You choose the card and gift amount, and add your personal message. Your recipient uses the card to donate to any charity of their choice. For as little as $15, you can give a green gift for good!

Have something you’re thankful for that you’d like to share with friends of JustGive? Visit us on Facebook.

Then let’s spread the thanks around – Tell a Friend!

Give thanks. Give hope.

One of my favorite days as a JustGive employee was when the staff volunteered at a soup kitchen in the San Francisco Haight/Ashbury neighborhood. We served a hot meal to homeless war veterans, students struggling with high cost of living, and low-income seniors. It was a vivid reminder that rough economic times mean more people than ever need help meeting basic needs.

According to the 2008 US Conference of Mayors, requests for emergency food assistance increased by 18% last year. 36 million people in the U.S. (12% of the total U.S. population) are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive food stamps. For those Americans, the food budget for a family of four is a mere $11.46 a day. Shocked? I was! Prior to the American Recovery & Investment Act of 2009, the daily allotment was only $7 per day.

Sadly, even with these programs, the most recent estimates show 50 million people—including almost one child in four—struggled last year to get enough to eat.

Reaching out to those in need

Panera Bread’s Day-End Dough-Nation program packages unsold bakery products at the end of each day to donate to local food banks and charities. In 2008, more than 50 million dollars worth of bread and baked goods were distributed to organizations helping to address the need for food in our local communities.

Children’s Hunger Fund Food Pak program provides a 20-pound box of food to families in need all over the world. The program allows churches and community groups the opportunity to get directly involved in helping needy families. Each member fills a box (or two). Then CHF distributes the boxes right to the doorstep of families in need all over the world.

WIC (Women Infants and Children) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Fighting hunger with your actions

JustGive makes it easy to act globally or locally to make a difference:

  • A $75 donation to Seattle-based FamilyWorks provides a two-week supply of formula, diapers, baby food and cereal for an infant. For $100, a homebound elderly person will receive 2 deliveries of canned goods and milk/produce.
  • Your gift of $70 allows Meds & Foods for Kids to provide a child with one year of malnutrition treatment. This peanut-based therapeutic food is ready to eat and requires no refrigeration.
  • The Bay Area Rescue Mission can provide 10 people with a hot meal this Thanksgiving for only $20.
  • You can feed a pregnant or breastfeeding mother for a year, helping her children grow up healthy and strong, with a $60 donation to the Friends of the World Food Program.

This holiday, as you pause to be thankful for what you have, consider giving of your time at a local Food Bank or making a donation to help someone else who may otherwise go hungry. In my experience, it’s something you’ll always remember.

Tell a friend about JustGive, and share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager